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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"A SHARP BEND IN THE ROAD: 17 INTRIGUING STORIES"

A Sharp Bend in the Road: 17 Intriguing Stories by Gerard Bianco

Following a devastating fall, Rita finds herself standing outside the dining hall at an independent living facility. She squeezes the handle of her cane, and her knuckles turn white. Her wire-rimmed glasses accentuate the tears she tries to hide. After eighty-two years, and a lifetime of memories, Rita believes she’s been abandoned at the mouth of a fiery dragon that will swallow her up—and she is terrified.

When a man purchases a remote log cabin in the Adirondacks, he believes he has found a peaceful haven, until he ­discovers a stranger dead on his living room rug.

An adventure seeker joins a unique organization and quickly learns that getting what you want can sometimes lead to unimagined consequences.

Two couples set out on a vacation in Maine, only to find their dreamy trip has turned into a getaway nightmare.

A Sharp Bend in the Road redefines the art of the short story collection. Seventeen stories, built around absorbing characters, strong conflicts, and sometimes dark and absurdly humorous ingredients, prove that journeying through life is far from predictable.


Here's what they're saying about A Sharp Bend in the Road -


“A virtuosic collection of stories followed by the sharp blade of a killer novella as the final act. Gerard Bianco’s stories do not creep up on you: they fall upon you like a raptor plummeting, wings folded, golden eye ablaze. Their signature swirl of caustic irony is bitter, often brutal -- a gleam of talons and a sudden cry -- resulting almost always in a small death of the heart.” —Dianne Benedict, Author of Shiny Objects

“Addictive reading. Each story is both captivating and intriguing.” —Jane Isaac, Author of An Unfamiliar Murder

"I thoroughly enjoy this collection of short stories and believe this book would be a great gift idea for people who enjoy quick, but unforgettable reads. I have trouble picking a favorite as I found each one to be a well written piece. Although all the stories are from the same author, none of them felt repetitive, as Bianco’s writing style took the reader into a different character living a very particular moment in their life. Bianco’s voice is hidden within different personalities, and settings, his craft evident on each one. As a writer myself I understand how difficult it is to write good short stories, as delivering a full story in just a few pages is no easy task. To deliver a quality collection of these stories deserves 5 stars for sure!"  —Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views 

Available January, 2015.

Be the first to own a copy. Order your copy now - SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR! Please include name of recipient. 

Hardcover - $23.95
Softcover - 13.95
Ebook - Not available at this time. It will, however, be available middle of January for $3.99.


Book Ordering Options
Please sign my book to:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

BOOK TRAILERS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

My short story collection, A Sharp Bend in the Road: 17 Intriguing Stories, will be on book shelves January, 2015. Consequently, I am in the planning stages of a marketing campaign. One form of advertisement I used for my mystery/thriller, The Deal Master, was a book trailer. It's a Hollywood-style trailer, filmed in New York City with a cast and crew from around the globe. The trailer is heaped with action—murders, victims, police on the chase. There's even a darkened shot of the illusive Deal Master himself. (Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ilXHaugenQ).

I recently spoke to my son, Gerard Bianco Jr., about filming a new trailer for A Sharp Bend in the Road. Gerard's, and his partner Nikki Gold’s company, Rare View Films, produced The Deal Master Book Trailer. We discussed a number of options. The new book contains 17 stories and therefore presents somewhat of a problem to encapsulate all of the stories into one trailer, but we're working on it.

Having already gone through the process, I thought it would be a good idea to help other authors decide on whether or not to create a trailer for their books, and to shed a few helpful hints.

Book trailers take on many forms, and as you might expect, the length and quality of a book trailer is determined by the amount of money you’re willing to put into it.

In today’s market, book trailers can run the gamut of costing as little as $100, and as much as tens of thousands of dollars.

One of the most popular, less expensive book trailers consists of a series of stock photography photos, combined with stock music, and a voice over. An obligatory photo of the book at the beginning and end of the trailer most always accompanies the trailer, along with a location where someone can buy the book. Usually, the voice over speaks the words that are flashed on the screen, either above or below the photos, as if to strengthen the impact of the words. Seems to me if the words were strong enough, one wouldn’t need a voice over. (Hint, hint: Choose one or the other.)

The goal of the book trailer is to give the reader a synopsis of the story, hoping this will lead to a sale. Critics of less-expensive book trailers say that poor quality book trailers have the opposite effect. Inexpensive and/or amateurish trailers cheapen the author's image rather than strengthening it, resulting in a poor image of the book. Poorly-made book trailers, critics say, stroke the vanity of the author while damaging the reputation of the book.

It’s interesting that a number of writers who spend a year, or many years on their novels fall down when it comes to the conceptualizing and writing their book trailer. It may be because they are inexperienced and are unfamiliar with industry standards, or they hadn't thought about creating a book trailer when planning their advertisement campaign, and now that their book is out, they rush a trailer through—something mediocre at best. Bad idea. Why? Simply because most people wouldn't pay to see a movie if they thought the movie trailer was amateurish, or mediocre. Same result with a potential reader. If someone views a book trailer that is awful they probably won't buy the book. It’s as simple as that.

A book trailer is only successful if it sells books. Think of it as your on-the-road salesperson who never sleeps. Wouldn't you want a terrific salesman touting your hard-worked efforts? Of course you would. Therefore why settle for a second or third best book trailer, simply because you want to rush it through, or can't afford anything better? You’d be better off spending your money elsewhere—in another form of advertisement.

So, what’s required to create the movie trailer that’s going to sell your book? Here are a few thoughts:

  • If at all possible, use film action instead of still photography to illustrate your story, the way movie trailers do. Viewers love action, especially action that incorporates conflict and suspense. If you don’t have the experience of shooting live action, or the proper gear, hire someone who does. Can't afford a professional? Many times, film students, eager to practice their craft, will help you out.
  • Stay away from narrative voice over. If you want to use voice in your trailer, it’s far better to have one of your characters speak the voice over, or incorporate dialogue.
  • View as many movie trailers as you can to learn how movie professionals sell their art. How do they begin their trailers? Action? Back story? How do they end them? Leaving the audience wanting more? What information do they include in the middle of the trailer? Back to back action scenes?
  • Spend plenty of time thinking about, constructing, and writing the best possible trailer to sell your book. Create art to sell your art. Take your time. Investigate all possibilities. In the long run, you'll produce a better book trailer, and your potential reader will appreciate your efforts, and hopefully they'll realize this same quality translates into a rewarding reading experience.
 Produce a high quality book trailer. Sell more books.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

THE LATE, GREAT CAROLYN KIZER

Photo: poetryfoundation.org
Carolyn Kizer, Pulitzer-winning poet, passed away on October 9th at the tender age of 89.

Kizer was born in 1925. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, studied at Columbia University as a fellow of the Chinese government, and in 1946 became a graduate fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle.

"Poems, to me, do not come from ideas," she said in an interview in the Paris Review, "they come from a series of images that you tuck away in the back of your brain. Little photographic snapshots. Then you get the major vision of the poem, which is like a giant magnet to which all these disparate little impressions fly and adhere, and there is the poem!"

In the interview, Kizer went on to explain how she remembered dialog she had when she was a little girl. She explained as only a poet could. "The pressure of my mother's speech in iambic pentameter of course, 'Listen darling and remember always; / It's Dr. Einstein broadcasting from Switzerland.' When someone speaks in that impassioned way, when they speak in perfect iambic pentameter, as most people do under pressure, it's something you remember."

For the full interview in the Paris Review click here. For an in-depth article on Carolyn Kizer, her accomplishments and bibliography, click this link, which will take you to the Poetry Foundation.


Monday, September 22, 2014

A SHARP BEND IN THE ROAD: 17 INTRIGUING STORIES - DUE SOON!

“Been away so long I hardly knew the place. Gee, it’s good to be back home. Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case. Honey disconnect the phone.” __Lennon & McCartney. “Back in the U.S.S.R.”

Sorry it’s been so long between blog posts. I’ve been crazy busy, preparing my collection of short stories, A Sharp Bend in the Road: 17 Intriguing Stories, which will be out January 2015. 

I’m very excited about the blurbs and reviews that have come in so far.

Here’s one of them:

            “I thoroughly enjoy this collection of short stories and believe this book would be a great gift idea for people who enjoy quick, but unforgettable reads. I have trouble picking a favorite as I found each one to be a well written piece.
            Although all the stories are from the same author, none of them felt repetitive, as Bianco’s writing style took the reader into a different character living a very particular moment in their life. Bianco’s voice is hidden within different personalities, and settings, his craft evident on each one.
            As a writer myself, I understand how difficult it is to write good short stories, as delivering a full story in just a few pages is no easy task. To deliver a quality collection of these stories deserves 5 stars for sure!.” __Susan Violante for Reader Views

I keep you posted on how we’re progressing and when the BIG LAUNCH will take place.

Keep in touch!  __Gerard

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

GUEST POST: MEET RAYMOND BOLTON, AUTHOR OF THE SCI-FI ADVENTURE "AWAKENING"


I’m delighted to be joined today by author Raymond Bolton. As an author, Raymond’s goal is to craft gripping stories about the human condition, whether they are set on earth or another world. He has written award-winning poetry and four novels. Two are explorations in science fiction: Awakeningan epic, released in January, 2014, and Thought Gazer, an adventure, part of a planned prequel trilogy, is expected to be released later this year.

Awakening has received almost all five star reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads.

Q) Welcome, Raymond. Thanks for joining us. Awakening: Please tell us a little about your book.

A) In a nutshell, this is the premise:

How does a world armed with bows, arrows and catapults, where steam power has only begun to replace horses and sailing ships, avert conquest from beyond the stars?

Prince Regilius has been engineered to combat the Dalthin, a predatory alien species that enslaves worlds telepathically, and to do so he must unite his people. But when his mother murders his father, the land descends into chaos and his task may prove impossible. Faced with slaying the one who gave him life in order to protect his world, he seeks a better way. Set in a vast and varied land where telepaths and those with unusual mental abilities tip the course of events, Awakening goes to the heart of family, friendship and betrayal.

Q) What do you want the reader to remember most about your book?

A) I want them to remember how it spoke to them. I say this because I have taken great pains to impart intimacy to my characters and richness to the plot. In fact, many reviews tell me I’ve succeeded.

Q) Why did you decide to write this book?

A)  I had always told myself, “Some day, I’m going to write a novel.” Eventually, I realized the only way to do this was to sit down and begin writing. Since I had grown up reading science fiction and fantasy, it was only logical that I begin within these genres. The book is a crossover and Tolkien’s Rings trilogy established the structure.

Q) Can you tell the readers about your writing schedule. For example: How many hours a day did you spend on writing? Editing?


A) While I would like to be able to say I write X hours a day without fail, because I run businesses in two cities located 1,100 miles apart that keep me occupied long hours five days a week and on a plane one day every seven, I write whenever I can.

I regard revising and editing as most important, because this is where the rough stone is polished, hopefully to become a gem. This is what has helped me win or be a finalist in various literary competitions.

Q) Who do you feel is your best audience?

A) Although I wrote with the intention of attracting young men aged late teens to early thirties, most of my reviews—two-thirds of which give five star ratings—have come from women. In addition to younger readers, many of reviewers I’ve spoken to are in their fifties and beyond. Further, and to my great delight, two Amazon reviewers said—and I must assume, because of this, the book was either given as a gift or was recommended—that although they never would have picked up this kind of book from a bookstore shelf, they now cannot wait for the next one.

Q) What's next on your writing agenda? Working on another book?

A) I am about to release Thought Gazer, the first volume of a prequel trilogy. Expect to see it between November 1 and New Year’s Day. Foreteller, the second volume of the trilogy is already being written.

Q) Anything else you'd like to add or share with us?

A) Those who are interested in such things as how I learned to self-publish and market my books would do well to check out my television interview on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WRVFbWRUNA&feature=youtu.be

As a result of my marketing efforts, beginning with its October 2014 issue, Sci-fi Magazine, with a circulation of 108,000, will be featuring Awakening for the next six months.

You may purchase Awakening at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0991347102

http://www.amazon.com/Awakening-Ydron-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00HMSEVVC/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Ydron-Saga-Raymond-Bolton/dp/0991347102

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Ydron-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00HMSEVVC/

Keep in touch with the author at:

Website: 
http://www.raymondbolton.com/

Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/RaymondBoltonAuthor

Twitter: 
https://twitter.com/RaymondBolton

Goodreads: 
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7690905.Raymond_Bolton

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

JANE ISAAC - EXCITING NEW CRIME NOVEL - "THE TRUTH WILL OUT"

It’s a great pleasure to re-introduce author Jane Isaac (May 2012). Jane’s new crime novel The Truth Will Out has just been published and is already garnishing rave reviews. Jane was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about her new book. Here they are:

1) Jane, your new novel “The Truth Will Out” has just been published.  Please tell us a little about your book.
            I am fascinated by what happens when extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. Most of us live our lives in a bubble and never cross paths with law enforcement. I like to explore what happens when we are taken out of our comfort zone. In The Truth Will Out we follow a murder investigation through the eyes of Detective Chief Inspector Helen Lavery and the rest of the story through by another person affected the by the case: Eva Carradine.
Let me share my blurb with you:
"Everything's going to be okay."
"What if it's not?"
Suddenly, she turned. For a split second she halted, her head inclined.
"Naomi, what is it?"
She whisked back to face Eva.
"There's somebody in the house..."
            Eva is horrified when she witnesses an attack on her best friend. She calls an ambulance and forces herself to flee Hampton, fearing for her own safety. DCI Helen Lavery leads the investigation into the murder. With no leads, no further witnesses and no sign of forced entry, the murder inquiry begins.
            Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. But as Helen inches towards solving the case, her past becomes caught up in her present.
            Someone is after them both. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what they want. As the net starts to close around them, can Helen escape her own demons as well as helping Eva to escape hers?

2) Sounds very exciting, Jane. What do you want the reader to remember most about your book?
            I think it would be the character of Helen Lavery. It’s important to me that the characters appear real; they could just as easily be you or I, so that we feel their journey.
For Helen, I interviewed police officers across the ranks in the local force to create a character that is not only interesting, but also realistic in modern day policing. She is a mum, battling to single-handedly raise her teenage sons while holding down one of the most important jobs in the police force and genuinely a good person, walking that extra mile to fight for justice in the face of difficult circumstances. I have great admiration for her.

 3) Why did you decide to write this book?
            As soon as I finished my first book, An Unfamiliar Murder, I realized that there was a lot more that I wanted to do with the character of Detective Chief Inspector Helen Lavery. The Truth Will Out is the second book in the series, although it can be read as a standalone novel in its own right, and sees the detective face her toughest case yet. There’s plenty to keep her busy as she clashes with superiors in pursuance of the truth, and she has a love interest too.

4) Can you tell the readers about your writing schedule. For example: How long did it take you to write the book? How many hours a day did you spend on writing? Editing?
            I have a day job and a family to fit my writing around, which means I lack the luxury of a regular writing routine. I tend to squeeze my writing into every spare moment and can often be found sitting beside the pool with my laptop while my daughter is in swim class, wandering over the fields with my dog churning over plot lines, or jotting down notes in the supermarket queue. It usually takes me around eighteen months to research, write and edit a book.

5) Who do you feel is your best audience?
            That’s a tough one. I’ve had messages and tweets from both men and women from ages sixteen to eighty I would guess! I think it would appeal to anyone who likes a British crime police procedural dosed with a large spoonful of psychological tension.

6) What's next on your writing agenda? Working on another book?
            I’ve just finished the first draft of my third novel, a new detective mystery set in Stratford upon Avon. It’s out for first opinion at the moment, so I’m keen to see how it’s received!

 Thank you, Jane. It’s been enlightening. Much success with your new novel.

Thank you so much for interviewing me, Gerard. It’s been fun answering your questions.

Jane Isaac was runner up, ‘Writers Bureau Writer of the Year 2013. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduced Midlands based Detective Chief Inspector Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the 'eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.' Her second book, The Truth Will Out, was released by Legend Press on 1st April 2014 and nominated as a ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by E-thriller.com.
Jane  lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

HOW TO KEEP YOUR READERS READING

“Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it’s a letdown, they won’t buy any more. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book.” __Mickey Spillane


“The first page sells that book.” Mickey Spillane understood the concept that the job of the opening lines of a book, a short story, or an essay is to grab the reader’s attention so that they have no choice but to continue reading. Spillane sold over 225 million copies of his books.

I’m a FFLR - a first few lines reader. I sail through bookstores reading the first few lines from an assortment of books—classics, not so classic, and bestsellers alike. The first few lines (or paragraphs) should attract the reader’s attention, set the stage for the rest of the story, and should be an indication as to the theme and genre of the story.
The first few lines are also a way in which the author introduces himself. It’s his/her way of saying “hello.”  Sometimes an author will start his story slowly, bowing courteously like a Japanese host. Some authors go a step further using the hot, wet, clammy dead-fish-in-your-hand handshake. (Yuck.) Then there are those that use the hardy handclasp, which indicates a warm, neighborly and inviting hello. Finally, some authors use the screaming, slap-on-your-back, two-fisted, hand-over-hand handshake that literally pulls the reader into the story, like it or not.
Personally, I like to wake the reader with a hold-on-to-your-hat first few lines, grabbing the reader and never letting go. Here are the opening lines from my mystery/thriller novel The Deal Master:

Before she could react, he attacker her. He flung her backwards onto the floor and lunged at her, pressing the cold steel blade of a pearl-handled straight razor menacingly against the side of her neck. His face, only inches from hers, began to sweat. “Don’t move,” he said through clenched teeth.

And here are the first few lines from my theatrical comedy, Discipline:

HAROLD:  I find that no two nipples are alike - even on the same person.
LILLY: It’s not polite to compare them.
HAROLD: I wouldn’t know why.
LILLY: I wouldn’t think you would, so I’ll tell you.

Notice how in both examples the atmosphere of the story is clearly laid out. There is no question as the genre of either story.


So, go back and change those expository boring first few lines you used to begin your story. Grab the reader’s attention. Shake him/her about. Keep your reader reading. Make your first impression impressionable. You may not get a second chance.


Monday, April 7, 2014

DONALD BARTHELME - SHORT STORY AUTHOR WITH A SHARP, PLAYFUL WIT

April 7th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of author Donald Barthelme (1931-1989).

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Barthelme was a postmodernist short story writer with a sharp wit.

"There's nothing more rewarding than a fresh set of problems." Donald Barthelme from The Guardian Book Blog.

To learn more about this terrific writer visit Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Barthelme and The Guardian Book Blog: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2009/apr/01/donald-barthelme-short-story

Friday, April 4, 2014

ROBERT E. SHERWOOD - SCREENWRITER OF "THE BISHOP'S WIFE" & "THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES"

April 4th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of playwright, editor and screenwriter Robert E. Sherwood (1896 - 1955).


Sherwood received numerous literary awards throughout his career, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1936, '39, '41, and '49, and the Bancroft Prize for distinguished writing in American history in 1949.

Sherwood had a fascinating career screenwriting such hits as The Bishop's Wife, Rebecca, The Best Years of Our Lives, and Lincoln in Illinois to name a few.

"To be able to write a play a man must be sensitive, imaginative, naive, gullible, passionate; he must be something of an imbecile, something of a poet, something of a liar, something of a damn fool." Robert E. Sherwood from Brainyquote.com

To learn more about this artist check out his page on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0792845/

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

WASHINGTON IRVING - AUTHOR OF "THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW" & "RIP VAN WINKLE"

April 3rd. Today we celebrate the birthdate of American author Washington Irving (1783 - 1859).

Daguerreotype of Washington Irving
(modern copy by Mathew Brady,
original by John Plumbe)
"Great minds have purposes; others have wishes." Washington Irving from Brainyquote.com
Learn more about this artist on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Irving

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN - A GIANT OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE

April 2nd. Today we celebrate the birthdate of author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)

Photograph taken by Thora Hallager, 1869

The son of a poor shoemaker, Hans Christian Andersen is one of the world's greatest storytellers. Although he wrote novels, poems and plays, he is and always will be most fondly remembered for his fairytales.
"Now when her sisters thus rose arm in arm through the sea, the little sister would remain below alone looking up after them, and she felt as if she must cry; but mermaids have no tears and so suffer all the more." From "The Little Mermaid."
Learn more about this artist on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Christian_Andersen

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"A TATTOO" PUBLISHED BY BURNINGWORD LITERARY JOURNAL


"A Tattoo," one of the short stories from my collection A Sharp Bend in the Road, has been published by Burningword Literary Journal. Here's the link. I hope you enjoy it!  http://burningword.com/2014/04/a-tattoo/

Monday, March 31, 2014

NIKOLAI GOGOL - UKRAINE-BORN RUSSIAN AUTHOR - PREEMINENT FIGURE OF RUSSIAN REALISM LITERATURE

March 31st. Yikes, last day of the month, where did it go?

Today we celebrate the birthdate of Ukraine-born, Russian author Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852)

Painting of Gogol courtesy of Wikipedia
Gogol is important in that his writing laid the foundation for Russian realism literature. His most famous works are his novel, "Dead Souls," and his short story "The Overcoat."

"When and at what time he entered the department and who appointed him, no on could recall. However many directors and other superiors came and went, he was always to be seen in one and the same place, in the same position, in the same capacity, as the same copying clerk, so that after a while they became convinced, that he must simply have been born into the world ready-made, in a uniform, and with a balding head." From Nikolai Gogol's short story "The Overcoat."

Learn more about this author here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Gogol

Sunday, March 30, 2014

ANNA SEWELL - AUTHOR OF THE CLASSIC NOVEL "BLACK BEAUTY"

March 30th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of author Anna Sewell (1820-1878)

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Sewell is the author of the classic novel Black Beauty. Published in 1877, the novel not only teaches about animal cruelty, it also teaches that one must treat people with kindness and respect. The story is told in the first person, by the horse.

Sewell was an invalid for most of her life. She was, however, able to get around by horse carriage. This led to her love of horses and her concern for their welfare. The novel was an immediate success. Unfortunately, Sewell died only 5 months after its publication.

"My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt." Anna Sewell from Brainyquote.com

Find out more about this author here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Sewell

Friday, March 28, 2014

MARIO VARGAS LLOSA - ONE OF THE MOST CELEBRATED WRITERS OF THE SPANISH-SPEAKING WORLD

March 28th. Happy Birthday author Mario Vargas Llosa (Born 1936)

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

He is one of Latin America's most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading writers of his generation. Mr. Vargas Llosa has written more than 30 works of nonfiction, plays and novels, including “The Feast of the Goat” and “The War of the End of the World.” He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010.

"Writing a book is a very lonely business. You are totally cut off from the rest of the world, submerged in your obsessions and memories." Mario Vargas Llosa from Brainyquote.com

Here is a NY Times article on this author: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/08/books/08nobel.html?pagewanted=all

Thursday, March 27, 2014

THORNE SMITH - AUTHOR OF SUPERNATURAL FANTASY FICTION

March 27th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of author Thorne Smith (1892-1934)

Photo courtesy of thornesmith.net

Smith was a writer of humorous supernatural fantasy fiction. His most famous works are two "Topper" novels, which were made into a film with Cary Grant, a TV show, and a top radio program. Smith was prolific, writing nine fantasy novels, one mystery, a serious novel, two military themed comedies, a volume of poetry, a children’s book, two short stories, and two screenplays.

"Quite casually, I wander into my plot, poke around with my characters for a while, then amble off, leaving no moral proved and no reader improved." Thorne Smith from Brainyquote.com

Learn more about Smith on this website devoted to the artist: http://www.thornesmith.net/

Sunday, March 23, 2014

KIM STANLEY ROBINSON - MAJOR SCI-FI AND FANTASY WRITER

March 23rd. Happy Birthday author Kim Stanley Robinson (Born 1952).
"Kim Stanley Robinson is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest living science-fiction writers; collectively, the three novels of his “Mars” trilogy—“Red Mars,” “Green Mars,” and “Blue Mars”—have won all the major science-fiction and fantasy awards." Tim Kreider, The New Yorker Magazine, Feb. 12th, 2013.

"That's one of the ironies of our time: Right when we're on the edge of serious improvements in health care, we're also cooking the planet." Kim Stanley Robinson from Brainyquote.com
FInd more info about this author at: http://kimstanleyrobinson.info

Thursday, March 20, 2014

MY SIX-STEP FORMULA FOR WRITING THE SHORT SHORT THAT EVERYONE WILL WANT TO READ

(Back in 2011 I introduced my 6-Step formula for writing a short short. I thought it would be a good idea to resurrect the formula for those who may have missed it. This formula also works for writing other formats of a story such as short stories and even the novella.)

        A short short is a short story that usually contains between 1200 - 1500 words. Experienced writers can spit 1500 before breakfast. It's as easy for them as swiping a credit card.

        However, an experienced writer also knows that writing the short short can be more difficult than writing a full length novel. The brevity of the story constricts the wordsmith, depriving him of developing character, plot and setting, all of which he can develop fully in a short story, a novella or a full-length novel. Every line and paragraph of the short short must be significant to carry the story forward with rapidity and terseness.

        Like a prize fighter, the author of the short short attempts to score points with each swing of the pen. To accomplish this task, it is vitally important that you plan your short short well, from start to finish, long before you begin a first draft. There is no wiggle room, no chance to elaborate and not a word to waste.

        To help with my writing, I developed a six-step formula to guide my pen from beginning to end of the short short. I hope that you will find it useful, as well.

  1. Plan your story well, dividing it into three parts - beginning, middle and end. Write the end of your story first. Knowing where and how your story is going to wind up will keep the beginning and middle parts in line. This will insure that you do not veer off your story. In the short short you must keep on track.
  2. When writing the beginning of your story use the Plunge Opening. This means that you must leap straight into the problem that confronts your main character. Now, with the beginning and the end written, the middle of your story will practically write itself.
  3. Allow the reader an opportunity to bond with your protagonist, be he/she good or bad. Readers want to sympathize with your main character and need to understand the motivation behind the action your main character takes. It is therefore wise to focus your few precious words on characterization rather than on setting.
  4. Make certain your characters are consistent. Don’t end the story with your good guy suddenly turning bad or the reverse. Never introduce an unknown character who will suddenly come out of the blue to save the day. Readers aren't going to buy it and they will resent you for it.
  5. Use strong dialogue to move the story along. Don’t tell the reader that your leading lady is angry. Instead, have her scream at someone. It’s a lot more effective.
  6. Finally, write a story that is worth the read. Give us an ending we’ll remember. Yes, I know, some people say “it’s all about the journey.” However, when it comes to story telling, that statement doesn't ring true. A surprise ending is ideal, and most sought-after short shorts are those with surprise endings - something with a twist. But if you can’t think of a story with a plot twist, make certain the ending has the reader going away with the desire to read your next story, the one after that, the one after that, and so on.

ERNEST BRAMAH - AUTHOR OF MANY INTERESTS & TALENTS

March 20th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of a very interesting author, Ernest Bramah (1868-1942).

photo by Howard Coster, National Portrait Gallery, London


Ernest is interesting because, not only was his output impressive (21 books + short story collections), he was ranked among the greats of his time in many different subjects - mystery, sic-fi, supernatural stories, etc. Read his bio, you'll be amazed.

"He who thinks he is raising a mound may only in reality be digging a pit." Ernest Bramah from Brainyquote.com

Find more about the author on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Bramah

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

JAMES REDFIELD - AUTHOR OF "THE CELESTINE PROPHECY"

March 19th. Happy Birthday author James Redfield (Born 1950)

Photo courtesy of celestinevision.com

Best known for his book "The Celestine Prophecy," which, by the way for all you indie authors, was self published.

"One of my teachers once said that the way you know you're on the right path is that it works. Now, that doesn't mean you don't run into blocks and brick walls, but it does mean that you can find a way around them or find a way to change yourself or your project in order to find the flow again and have it work." James Redfield from Brainyquote.com

To learn more about this author log onto his website: http://www.celestinevision.com

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

JOHN UPDIKE - AMERICAN NOVELIST, SHORT STORY WRITER, POET, ART & LITERARY CRITIC

March 18th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of author John Updike (1932-2009).



"What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit." John Updike from Brainyquote.com

Best known for his Rabbit, Run series, Updike published more than twenty novels and a dozen short story collections. He is one of only three people to have won the Pulitzer Price twice. His short story "A & P" has been anthologized in many collections and is one of the standards taught in writing courses in many colleges and universities.

Photo courtesy The John Updike Society: http://blogs.iwu.edu/johnupdikesociety/

Monday, March 17, 2014

PENELOPE LIVELY - AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF FICTION FOR CHILDREN & ADULTS

March 17th. Today we celebrate St. Patrick's Day. We also want to wish Happy Birthday to author Penelope Lively (Born 1933).

Photo courtesy of Penelope Lively official website


Dame Penelope is a multi-award winning author of fiction for both children and adults.

"The pleasure of writing fiction is that you are always spotting some new approach, an alternative way of telling a story and manipulating characters; the novel is such a wonderfully flexible form." Penelope Lively from Brainyquote.com

To learn more about Dame Penelope here is her official website: http://www.penelopelively.net/

Sunday, March 16, 2014

ALICE HOFFMAN - AUTHOR OF "PRACTICAL MAGIC" AND MORE

March 16th. Happy Birthday author Alice Hoffman (Born 1952) writer of the novel "Practical Magic," which was made into a hit film staring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman.

Photo Credit: Deborah Feingold

"After a while the characters I'm writing begin to feel real to me. That's when I know I'm heading in the right direction."

Alice Hoffman's books, films, news and more can be found on her website: http://alicehoffman.com

Saturday, March 15, 2014

WOLCOTT GIBBS - EDITOR, THEATER CRITIC AND AUTHOR

March 15th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of author Wolcott Gibbs (1902-1958).



Gibbs was an American editor, humorist, theatre critic, playwright and author of short stories, who worked for The New Yorker magazine from 1927 until his death.

"…anything you suspect of being a cliche undoubtedly is one and had better be removed." Wolcott Gibbs from Brainyquote.com

Here is a link to an article about his theory and practice of editing: http://grammar.about.com/od/writersonwriting/a/gibbsediting.htm

Photo courtesy of www.amirite: http://www.amirite.com/famousthoughts/author/wolcott-gibbs

Friday, March 14, 2014

TAD WILLIAMS - FANTASY & SCI-FI AUTHOR

March 14th. Happy Birthday Tad Williams (Born 1957) bestselling author of fantasy and sci-fi.



“We tell lies when we are afraid... afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.” Tad Williams from goodreads.com

Here is his website: http://www.tadwilliams.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tad_Williams

Thursday, March 13, 2014

HUGH WALPOLE - AN ENGLISH AUTHOR'S LIFE OF ADVENTURE

March 13th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of author Hugh Walpole (1884-1941)

Walpole, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1934
Between 1909 and 1941 he wrote thirty-six novels, five volumes of short stories, two original plays and three volumes of memoirs. He lived life to the fullest. You'll be surprised to learn of his other accomplishments if you read his short bio on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Walpole

“The most wonderful of all things in life is the discovery of another human being with whom one's relationship has a growing depth, beauty and joy as the years increase. This inner progressiveness of love between two human beings is a most marvelous thing; it cannot be found by looking for it or by passionately wishing for it. It is a sort of divine accident, and the most wonderful of all things in life.” Quote courtesy of Goodreads.com


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A SHARP BEND IN THE ROAD - 16 SHORT STORIES READY TO BE PUBLISHED

A Sharp Bend in the Road - sixteen intriguing short stories in my debut collection, each a delectable treat that leaves the taste buds wanting more. It's finished!!!! Now it's off to the agent. Keep your fingers and toes crossed.



Here is an excerpt from “Putz,” one of the sixteen stories: http://writerenroute.com/A_Sharp_Bend_in_the_Road.html

JACK KEROUAC - FATHER OF THE BEAT GENERATION

March 12th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of author Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) considered to be Father of the Beat Generation.

Jack Kérouac by Tom Palumbo circa 1956

"Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken." Jack Kerouac from Brainyquote.com

Watch rare footage of Kerouac reading from "On the Road Again," on the Steve Allen show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzCF6hgEfto

Photo of Kerouac by Tom Palumbo courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Kerouac

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

DOUGLAS ADAMS - ENGLISH WRITER, HUMORIST, DRAMATIST

March 11th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of author Douglas Adams (1952-2001)


Adams is best known as the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

"This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays."

"I love deadlines. "I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams from Brainyquote.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Adams

Monday, March 10, 2014

JOHANNA LINDSEY - AMERICAN ROMANTIC FICTION AUTHOR

March 10th. Happy Birthday author Johanna Lindsey (Born 1952)

Johanna Lindsey has been hailed as one of the most popular authors of romantic fiction, with more than 60 million copies of her novels sold.



"If you can't laugh at your own characters, or shed a tear for them, or even get angry at one of them, no one else will either." Johanna Lindsey from Brainyquote.com

Photo courtesy of Simon Schuster: Johanna Lindsey/ Official Publisher Page

Sunday, March 9, 2014

MICKEY SPILLANE - AMERICAN AUTHOR OF MIKE HAMMER FAME

March 9th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of mystery writer Mickey Spillane, one of America's best-selling writers of all time. (Born in Brooklyn, 1918-2006)



"Authors want their names down in history; I want to keep the smoke coming out of the chimney." Mickey Spillane from Brainyquote.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mickey_Spillane

Saturday, March 8, 2014

KENNETH GRAHAME - SCOTTISH AUTHOR

March 8th. Today we celebrate the birthdate of Scottish author Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932). Famous for "The Wind in the Willows" & "The Reluctant Dragon."


"Monkeys who very sensibly refrain from speech, lest they should be set to earn their livings." Kenneth Grahame from Brainyquote.com
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Grahame

Friday, March 7, 2014

BRENT EASTON ELLIS - AMERICAN AUTHOR

March 7th. Happy Birthday author Brent Easton Ellis (born 1964)



He is most known for writing "Less Than Zero," and "American Psycho."

"No one is drawn to writing about being happy or feelings of joy." Brent Easton Ellis from Brainyquote.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bret_Easton_Ellis

Thursday, March 6, 2014

GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ - COLOMBIAN NOVELIST, SHORT-STORY WRITER, SCREENWRITER, & JOURNALIST

March 6th. Happy Birthday author Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Born 1927)



Some of his best-known novels: "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (1967), "Autumn of the Patriarch" (1975) and "Love in the Time of Cholera" (1985). He popularized the literary style of Magic Realism.

"What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it." Gabriel Garcia Marquez from Brainyquote.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_Garc%C3%ADa_Márquez

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CHARLES FULLER - AN AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHT

March 5th. Happy Birthday playwright Charles Fuller (Born 1939) best know for his play "A Soldier's Play" for which he received the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A prominent figure in theater for more than 50 years.



“Waters: Not havin' ain't no excuse for not gettin'." - Charles Fuller "A Soldier's Play."

Photo courtesy of aalbc.com - http://aalbc.com/authors/charles_fuller.html

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

JAMES ELLROY - AMERICAN AUTHOR OF CRIME FICTION

March 4th. Happy Birthday author James Ellroy (Born 1948)



Best known for Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L. A. Confidential, and White Jazz.

"I love thinking about American history, thinking about LA history. I love brooding on crime." James Ellroy from Brainyquote.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ellroy

Monday, March 3, 2014

ARTHUR MACHEN - WELSH AUTHOR OF SUPERNATURAL, FANTASY, & HORROR FICTION

March 3rd. Today we celebrate the birthdate of author Arthur Machen (1863-1947)



Best known for his novel, "The Great God Pan." Stephen King called it, ". . . one of the best horror stories ever written. Maybe the best in the English language."

"Every branch of human knowledge, if traced up to its source and final principles, vanishes into mystery." Arthur Machen from Brainyquote.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Machen

Sunday, March 2, 2014

JOHN IRVING - AN AMERICAN AUTHOR & ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING SCREENWRITER

March 2nd. Happy Birthday author John Irving (Born 1942)



"The World According to Garp"; "The Hotel New Hampshire"; "The Cider House Rules," are just a few of his novels.

"If you presume to love something, you must love the process of it much more than you love the finished product." John Irving from Brainyquote.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Irving

Saturday, March 1, 2014

WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS - AMERICAN REALIST AUTHOR

March 1st. Celebrating the birthdate of author William Dean Howells (1837-1920).



He wrote more than 40 novels and story collections and played an important part in the rise of the American Realist movement.

"Tomorrow I shall be sixty-nine, but I do not seem to care. I did not start the affair, and I have not been consulted about it at any step." William Dean Howells from Brainyquote.com

Photo courtesy of PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/timeline/howells.html 

Friday, February 28, 2014

MARCEL PAGNOL - ONE OF FRANCE'S GREATEST 20C WRITERS

Feb. 28th. Celebrating the birthdate of French author Marcel Pagnol (1895-1974) one of France's greatest 20th century writers, who excelled in almost every genre - memoir, novel, play and film.

2 of my all-time favorite Pagnol-themed films are La Gloire de mon pere (My Father's Glory) and Le Chateau de ma mere (My Mother's Castle). They are both a 'must see'. (View My Father's Glory first.) 


"The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be." Marcel Pagnol from Brainyquote.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Pagnol

Thursday, February 27, 2014

IRWIN SHAW - AN AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHT, NOVELIST, SHORT STORY AUTHOR

Feb. 27th. Celebrating the birthdate of author Irwin Shaw (1913-1984)



"There are too many books I haven't read, too many places I haven't seen, too many memories I haven't kept long enough." Irwin Shaw from Brainyquote.com

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irwin_Shaw